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21 disabilities under RPWD 2016 - Low-vision

As part of our series about the 21 disabilities covered by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016, today we will talk about ' Low-vision'. The disability caused due to vision impairments is called Low-vision. These may include conditions such as partial sight, partial blindness or even poor vision.

What is Low Vision

As per legal terms, low vision means a person with impairment of vision of less than 6/18 to 6/60 with best correction in the better eye or impairment of field in any one of the following categories:

  • Reduction of fields less than 50 degrees
  • Heminaopia with macular involvement
  • Altitudinal defect involving lower fields

In simpler terms, in case of Low Vision the eyesight is not normal and the person is not able to see clearly even after treatment or with the use of aids like glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery.

To measure the vision 'Visual Acuity' is measured. It is a number that indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision.

Here is how the measurement works. If a person has a visual acuity measurement of 20/70 it would mean that the person has a 20/70 vision. Meaning that this person can see on a eye chart from a distance of 20 feet what a person with perfect 20/20 vision can see from a distance of 70 feet.

In some cases the vision can be so low that it creates challenges for a person and impacts their daily life. Although the person is not completely blind, they cannot see clearly enough to lead their life without assistance.

Causes of Low Vision

Low Vision can occur due to some eye conditions and diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, and stroke. Out of these issues like cataracts can be treated and vision can be restored. Other causes can also be birth defect or injury.

Types of Low Vision

Hazy Vision, Blurry Vision, Tunnel Vision, Blind Spots, Poor Peripheral Vision are some examples of conditions associated with low vision and loss of vision.

Effects of Low Vision

Low vision hampers day to day activities of life. A person with low vision faces challenges in education, work and social life. These can affect them physically and emotionally. Living with a disability can be frustrating when there is lack of support and guidance for the affected person.

Technology can be used to cope with the challenges. Nowadays there are some gadgets available that can assist people with low vision. Handheld magnifiers, digital desktop magnifiers and bioptic telescopes, screen readers are some of them.

RPWD Act 2016 recognizes people with low Vision as disabled and ensures them of protection and equal treatment under the law.

"Laws such as RPWD need to be implemented effectively to ensure that their benefits reach the people they are made for. Lack of awareness and sensitization remain the main hurdle in the path of inclusion" says Penav Mota, law student with vision impairments.

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